New York City requires all preschool children to receive flu vaccine

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I have always been a little hesitant to receive the flu vaccine. My husband and I have been pretty healthy throughout our married life, and I can’t remember any time when I’ve actually had the actual, hardcore, respiratory Influenza disease. I don’t get the vaccine-he does.

My children have egg allergies, and we been very cautious about what vaccines they can and cannot have. We have a great doctor who has worked with us and helped us make informed decisions about how and when to vaccinate.

I don’t necessarily want to open the can of worms on whether or not you should vaccinate your child, but recent regulations in New York City have got me thinking. How big of a role should government play in determining the health of your child?

CNN reports that as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s final health initiatives, there is a regulation now requiring preschool aged children and under to receive a mandatory flu vaccine if they are enrolled in a city-liscened preschool or daycare.

The decision was unanimously approved by the  The New York City Board of Health.

“Young children have a high risk of developing severe complications from influenza,” the Health Department said in a statement. “One-third of children under five in New York City do not receive an annual influenza vaccination, even though the vaccine safely and effectively protects them against influenza illness. Young children often pass influenza to other children and family members, who then spread the infection to others in the community.”

According to CBS online, “City health officials told CBS News Tuesday they anticipate this effort would affect 150,000 children and, based on traditional vaccine effectiveness rates, prevent more than 20,000 cases of flu in young kids.”

The schools and daycares would have the choice to exclude accepting a child into the facility if the child was not vaccinated according to these new regulations.

“We feel strongly that we are doing something that’s always been done to protect the health of children,” says Dr. Jay Varma, deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

But not all are happy with the decision.

“This was a very closed process,” said John Gilmore, director of the Manhattan-based Autism Action Network. “We will most likely be filing a lawsuit fairly soon to overturn this. From a legal standpoint, we see this as similar to the soda ban,” he said.

This is such a tricky subject. I understand both arguments for and against administering the flu vaccine to young children, and have been torn myself as to what is the best option for my own children. Part of why I feel safe to make my own decisions is the fact that I am not (yet) forced to do something I don’t feel is in the best interest for my child. That may or may not be receiving a flu vaccine-but I feel that’s beside the point.

It’s when the choice is taken away that I have a problem.

Of course, parents still have the choice to keep their kids home and not enroll them in daycare or preschool. And personal health reasons (such as my sons’ egg allergy) and religious beliefs would also exempt children from having to receive the vaccine.

But, seeing that I live in Utah and not New York, this isn’t an issue for me, and I am grateful for the informed and concerned doctors and health care professionals who truly have my children’s best interests at heart.

What do you think of NYC’s new flu vaccine regulations for children?




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